Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Start of Holland

Spring Break we took a trip.

Decided to drive 3 1/2 hours to Holland to the Tulip Festival, then to Amsterdam and then onto Belgium.

Here is the start to our adventure.

The Drive
We got stuck in a Stau (rhymes with COW...means a traffic jam) for 4 hours, and only moved 10 miles (20 km). Brian had already started with a headache so his inner Road Rage started to come out. He had the grand idea of pulling off one of the exits to run around and eat lunch. (Little did we know that there was no on-ramp back onto the freeway and had to back track 2 miles to then sit in traffic for another two miles that we had already traveled.)

How pretty is this countryside? We were up on a hill so you can see the beautiful parts of the countryside behind us. And the grass really was almost that green. I only lightened the whole picture just a little.

Spencer sleeping in the car melts me...I love when he puts his hands behind his head to sleep. He also has this new thing of stuffing his blanket behind his head, or over his face, to get comfortable. And he really makes a "to do" about it. He'll move it around and nuzzle his head back onto it to get it just right. He'll even take it off and reposition it if it's not the way he wants it.

Brian trying to control all his patience. Please know that I was totally giggling and laughing the whole time cuz our roles had totally been switched. He's usually a very patient person. I don't think it helped that I kept making quips that fueled his rage.

Here's the reason for the Stau. At least it was worth it and it wasn't just cuz some guy had stalled on the side of the road...

I love these pictures of Spencer when he's deep in thought. He loves to read this "Thomas the Train" catalogue. He gets really into it and studies each train in there. It entertains him for a long time.

Our friend from church gave us this great idea to stay at this place called "Eurocamp". And of course the first thing that comes to mind is, "No way. I do not like camping." But the more we looked into it, the better it sounded. No one we knew had been there but they were all planning on staying there while doing this trip.

Little did we know how amazing it would be. I seriously wish they had these on the West Coast in the states (they have quite a few but only on the East Coast) cuz the Schultz Family would be all over these for our reunions. And they were cheaper than a hotel. They have them all over Europe, like in Italy, France, Greece, Austria, Switzerland, etc., etc. I'm totally in love with this place and want everyone to experience it!

We had our own 3 bedroom cabin (mobile home) with every amenity you needed... we also loved that we had a huge fridge, kitchen and every dish we needed to cook all our meals. But wanna know the best thing? It was attached to their very own amazing amusement park and indoor water park... The girls loved it so much that they were actually annoyed we HAD to go to the Tulip Festival, Amsterdam and Belgium.

But I'll be honest, I thought it was pretty amazing too, I almost wanted to stay there instead of doing the other things. Ruth, again, did you ever think you'd hear me say I'd rather camp?

The only bummer or me was in the morning, I had a re-creation of our bird situation at our house. But I was pleasantly surprised when I walked outside to see these fun things right at my doorstep, welcoming me to the pleasant day. How could you get mad at these beautiful Mallard Ducks, even though they were honking my ears off at 6 a.m.?


So, like I said, we were within about 200 yards from the amusement park, but it was basically on the same lot. So, it was almost like we were camping at an amusement park and water park. And true to European standards, the rides were amazing! I didn't get any pictures of the water park though, which I'm bummed about. The water slides would have put Raging Waters to shame. Brian actually got flipped over inside one of the "medium" ones and said he wouldn't recommend I go on any "Turbo" ones. They were the kind that at one point you just dropped straight down. He said he lost his stomach the whole way down. They also had two that were pitch black lit up with twinkle starlight, and a toilet bowl one that pretty much flushed you out and you had no control over your head or body. I had to literally hold my head in place as I was going down...hahaha. Funny stuf. I was pretty amazed. Spencer loved the wave pool, the kiddie pool, the "family slide" and the kid slides. He did NOT want to leave.

Wait. Before I go on, I have to tell you this story. There were a few things that surprised us when we got there that no one had told us. Like they didn't tell us we were supposed to bring certain things (dishwashing soap, toilet paper, etc.). We just thought that they would have mentioned something in all the paperwork they sent us or it would be provided. Well, one of the things they didn't tell us was that we needed photos for some sort of "Passport" to get into the Amusement Park and Water Park. So, when we got there, they told us, "Oh, well there's a photo booth you can just take each of your pictures and stick it on there."

Ummm...the pictures were 4 euro each...that's $6...for each of us...coming out to be about $24 US Dollars. I refused. I was so mad. I stewed about it til the next day and finally went in and talked to the office, telling them how ridiculous it was and they should have told us before. She said, "Well you can just take a digital picture of the whole family, print it from the digital printer that is only 35 cents and then cut your heads out." Cool! I can handle that.

Well, of course the stupid thing was broken. And we ended up having to pay 4 euro per person. At first, I refused to do it and had Brian and the girls take their own. I wouldn't go to the water park that night anyway so why pay the money? Well, we saved on the girls cuz the thing gave us 4 pictures each. Why not use the same picture for the identical twins? Can you guess from the pictures below who took the picture for both of them? Oh and Brian purposely made a mad face at the camera just to be fun, but to document how unwillingly we were doing it.

And then the next day I ended up doing it too but know that I didn't do it willingly. I was so mad, which is such a funny thing to be mad about with all the other things we could have been more mad about, but I was seriously pissed. It wasn't about the money, cuz $24 isn't that big of a deal, but I just hate feeling like we're being "taken." It made me feel better when two other families walked in to look at the machine and were mad they hadn't been told either. But all in all, the campsite was very accommodating and I couldn't have asked for a better time.

They had two huge sand pits with a big old tall slide that Brian was kind of even afraid of going on.

The multi-seated teeter totter.

Of course, Spencer went straight to the sand.

I don't know the name of this thing, but it rocked back and forth and went really high. Kind of a smaller version of the Pirate Boat at all the amusement parks.

(Can you see the big tall slide in the background? It's taller than it looks in this picture.)
Girls had a good time with this pipeline. It was automatically going so they kept toppling over and falling over all the kids that climbed in.

I didn't get any good pictures of the big rides. They had some pretty amazing ones...comparable to Magic Mountain roller coasters. Some they didn't go on cuz the girls were too small, and some they didn't go on cuz they were too scared. Which is saying something about the ride cuz the girls don't get scared that easily. One ride literally went straight up, then flipped over the top and went straight down into a huge curve. No way was I going on that one.

Spencer, of course, loved this train and wanted to go on it all day. I know the following pictures all look similar but the faces are different and I love them.

See! We can prove it! We really were in Holland. These Dutch pancakes were being made everywhere. I seriously wanted some but never ordered any.
I just showed Brian this post and he said, "We definitely need to go back. And we'll just stay there at Eurocamp. The girls would love it, and then you can get some Dutch pancakes. What else would be better?" Haha. Touring Europe?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mourning Their Losses

What would you think these girls were going to do if you saw them walk down the stairs in these outfits and with these props? Can you see the framed picture in Xanthe's hands, the dark glasses, and the black roses in Xoe's hands? (Xoe couldn't find her sunglasses.)

(Oh and the other girl is named Grace. She's one of the girls' friends that has been here about half of the days of Spring Break. She's very cute.)

I asked them, "Girls, what in the world are you doing and where are you going?" I was totally not prepared for their answer.

"Mom, we're old ladies going to the cemetery (down the street from our house) to pay respects to our loved ones."

I totally guffawed with laughter when they told me that. We have this really cool old cemetery at the end of our street. It's not spooky or anything. A cool European cemetery that the girls see every time they walk their dog to the fields down in that same area.

Hey! Whatever keeps them entertained right? Here are some pictures they brought back saying they were paying respects to all these people. Weird, yet imaginative...gotta give them that.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Xoe's in the Newspaper

Do you guys remember this post? When Xoe participated in her school's fire drill? Well guess what? It was her picture they chose to use in the write-up in our local newspaper. My baby's a local celebrity. haha. Well, at her old school at least.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On Our Walk...

Multitudes of these are what we see on our walks and drives every day. They're blooming everywhere. On the sides of the roads, in people's front gardens and all along the countryside. They make me happier than the tulips. (It's not a very good picture because it's taken with my phone. You get the idea though.)

Titanic & Downtown Wiesbaden

The Titanic Exhibition came to town for a few months. Xanthe was told she would receive extra credit for going so we decided one beautiful day we would visit the event in downtown Wiesbaden.

I've always had intimate feelings about the Titanic Story. Some good, mostly bad. I love the time period, but I hate the story. So much so, that I haven't even seen the movie. Yes, much to everyone's chagrin, I couldn't even imagine sitting through it.

I should have known that this exhibition would be hard on me. Especially since they built exact replicas of the first class, second class and third class hallways and rooms. There were exact items from the ship and letters and postcards. There were large, life-sized pictures of the people who died, including children...older children, age 11, who weren't allowed to get on the lifeboats. There was a mixture of emotions, definitely. It mostly took my breath away, and not always in a good way. But like always, I had a deep feeling of humility, respect and remembrance for those who died.

The next couple of pictures that show the replicas below are from other people's images. We weren't able to take pictures inside. Guess they didn't listen. haha.

A real piece of the ship. I couldn't understand what the audio tour was insinuating, but I'm pretty sure they said this was one of the pieces that actually hit the ice berg.

Spencer, obviously, got tired of it pretty quickly. So, he and I moved through the last part of the exhibition pretty fast, but let the girls take their time. Xanthe had been learning a lot about the Titanic in her class, and even had to write a report on it, so I knew she took a special interest. Spencer and I went upstairs to the main plaza to walk around (this is the the main plaza in Downtown Wiesbaden where festivals and events go on. It's a really cool place to go shopping and eat).

(This was the exit of the exhibition...we came from up the stairs)

I know I'm not a great photographer (yet) but I HAD to take pictures of this downtown area. It is such a beautiful place to come and just sit. I know lots of friends who take quick trips down here to just sit. I think I might start doing the same. Spencer and I had a great time walking through puddles, running down the "walking only" cobblestone streets, and chasing ducks.

Wherever there's a puddle, Spencer finds it. These are his footprints after I let him take off his shoes.

Don't judge me on his outfit. This was a rough day. He got everything wet at one point so I had to strip him down and put on what I had in the car. He was happy, and that's all that's good and matters!

He just sat down at one point with his pretzels and didn't want to move. If he did, he just scooted on his bum.

Don't those buildings in the background look unreal?

The flowers are a common occurrence wherever we go. And yet I never get sick of them.